ROBUST GOVERNANCE

OVERVIEW

Accountability is core to good governance. We must be accountable to the people we serve, our funders and the public who trust us to contribute to the common good. Good governance practices are foundational to accountability and inspire confidence. They enable us to demonstrate that we have fulfilled out commitments and efficiently provided high quality services with donated or public funds.

IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE KEY AIMS OF THIS STRATEGIC PRIORITY IN OUR STRATEGIC PLAN 2020-2022 WE ARE COMMITTED TO:

  • Strengthening our approaches to governance, developing principled decision-making frameworks
    and guidelines at every level of our organisation.
  • Harnessing compliance and regulatory frameworks to enhance our service provision.
  • Strengthening our governance culture
  • Effectively managing and responding to the risks we face
  • Reviewing and consolidating all our organisational policies

STRENGTHENING APPROACHES TO GOVERNANCE

In the 2020/21 financial year, we invested significant effort into strengthening our approach to governance. The Society needs to to ensure that we are true to our purpose and meeting our obligations as set out in our governing document which requires us to carry out our mission which is ‘to directly relieve suffering or deprivation of those in need and to promote human dignity and personal integrity’. 

The floods and COVID-19 have each required us to ensure strong governance. As we responded to the floods we have put in place systems to ensure that our funds were appropriately distributed; and during the COVID-19 pandemic we have developed a coordinated and well-documented approach to ensuring that all of our sites have appropriate safety measures in place, that we were able to close and re-open our Vinnies Shops efficiently, and that our decisions were always based on the best health advice available.  

During the last financial year, we supported our State Council and Board as they guided the work of the organisation – we have provided induction programs for new office holders; offered governance training opportunities; and reviewed our Board Charter.  

We also implemented some key governance policies including the Records Management Policy and Risk Management Framework – both of which support principled and ethical decision-making throughout the organisation.  

We joined the Australian Catholic Anti-Slavery Network and produced our first Modern Slavery Statement. We provided training to our Board and State Council on the risks of modern slavery and made training available to all of our employees. We also consulted with suppliers about ways to decrease the risk of modern slavery in our supply chains.

During the 2020/21 financial year, several external accreditation processes reviewed our service provision about which they provided extremely positive reports. These accreditation processes considered governance standards and were satisfied that we met all applicable standards. 

We will continue to strive to strengthen our approach to governance to ensure a transparent and accountable approach to all areas of our work. 

RISK MANAGEMENT

The Society has continued to implement its Risk Management Framework to embed consistent Risk Management practices across all directorates. This will enhance the visibility of risks, enabling risk treatment and trend analysis. Our governance and risk team engaged with teams across the Society to develop an understanding of the Society’s risk profile.

A workshop focusing on the Society’s strategic risks was held for the Board in December 2020. This workshop informed the setting of the Society’s risk appetite. Our Board approved the Risk Appetite Statement (RAS) in June 2021.  The RAS is a tool to inform actions, behaviour and decision making in relation to risk. 

The Society is committed to continually monitoring and improving the quality of its services.

The Program and Service Quality Team provides direction and support to Vinnies Services, embedding standard approaches to quality management and facilitating the sharing of expertise across teams.

Quality Action Groups operate across the major services areas of Homelessness, Disability and Health.

INTERNAL AUDIT

The Society routinely conducts an internal audit to provide internal, objective assurance for the organisation. This process is designed to enhance the delivery of its services and operations.

The Internal Audit operates on a risk-based auditing approach to assess the effectiveness of internal controls and governance. As outlined through the reporting process, internal audit reporting is provided directly to the Audit and Finance Committee of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW and the Audit Risk and Finance Committee of St Vincent de Paul Housing. Administratively, Internal Audit reports to the Chief Executive Officer.

During the past financial year, 15 audits were completed including the bushfire appeal, grants and assistance programs; JobKeeper support provided by the Commonwealth government; corporate credit card usage; gifts in wills and estates; client assistance via Conferences; fleet vehicles; no-interest loans (NILS); People and Culture and St Vincent de Paul Housing. Subsequent follow up audits are conducted to ensure recommendations made during the audit process are actioned progressively by Management.

SAFEGUARDING OF CHILDREN

Institutions interact with children across a broad range of sectors and activities, such as schools, sport and recreation clubs, support services and childcare centres. These institutions are part of the fabric of our daily lives and reflect community priorities, needs and values.

Making such institutions safe for children requires making communities safe – places where every child is valued, and where their rights to safety and wellbeing are respected and upheld.

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

After establishing a dedicated Safeguarding team last year, adopting the Catholic Professional Safeguarding Standards, and establishing a Child Safe Quality Action Group, the Society has continued its work in the safeguarding of children in the 2020-21 financial year. 

The Society is participating in an inter-faith Child Safe Standards working group and is developing a range of resources four our members, volunteers, and staff to support their implementation. 

We also developed a range of specialised training and new online modules to ensure our employees, members, and volunteers use best practices in safeguarding children.

IN THE 2020/21 FINANCIAL YEAR, THE SOCIETY HAS CONTINUED TO
UPHOLD OUR COMMITMENT TO SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN BY:

Provided mandatory child safe familiarisation training to 1889 members, volunteers, and staff.

Provided specialised training in best practice child safe service delivery on topics including:

  • Case note writing to 312 employees and volunteers
  • Safeguarding information to 251 employees
  • Child safe recruitment to 64 employees and volunteers
  • Child safe train the trainer program to 26 employees and members

ORGANISATIONAL POLICY REVIEW

The Society has continued a project to review and consolidate all of our organisational policies. Policies were prioritised based on organisational and strategic risk. The approach to policy review and development was highly collaborative, drawing on the knowledge and expertise of program managers, frontline staff and Society members.

Society members were consulted in the development of all policies that relate to the work that they do. The Membership and Youth Advisory Committee was a great support in progressing this work and assisting with digital consultations with Central Councils. A collaborative approach to this work improved the quality and utility of policies and procedures.

A total of 39 policies were reviewed, consolidated or developed in the 2020/21 financial year. The policy review project will continue into year three of the Strategic Plan 2020–2022.

The review and consolidation of organisational policies supports our people to deliver best-practice services to the people we assist.